Who is King Henry IV of England? As a lover of European history, I assumed I would know something about him. But I didn’t. I knew absolutely nothing. In fact, I only am familiar with his name because of his presence as the stabilizing protagonist and namesake of two of Shakespeare’s plays, Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2.
Is it Titania or Oberon who is truly the rebellious upstart? According to Walter in “Oberon and Masculinity in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the scholarly consensus is that Theseus’ patriarchal rule over Athens is mirrored by Oberon’s rule over the forest. As such, Titania’s refusal to hand over the Indian changeling to Oberon is an act of rebellion against her husband that must be punished. However, recent developments in the study of folklore have countered this scholarship by demonstrating that, for an early modern audience, fairy land would have been recognized as a domain where the queen had exclusive sovereign authority, or was at least a figure who dominated her partner, the fairy king. Continue reading